THE new Experience Barnsley museum has school visits booked for the next 12 months, council leader Sir Steve Houghton has said.

He said the museum was a celebration of everything that was great about Barnsley, and that people were booked into to look at the archives for the foreseeable future.

"The fact that we've got bookings from schools for the next 12 months shows the level of interest in this project.

"There are lots of interesting things for everyone - we've had so many things donated we can't display them all."

Radio DJ Simon Hirst, author Milly Johnson, Egyptologist Dr Joann Fletcher and Dickie Bird were a few who joined Cllr Houghton at Thursday's official opening.

Cllr Joe Hayward is largely credited with the original idea of Experience Barnsley and said it was awesome to see his idea come to fruition.

"There's been a lot of people involved and sometimes it's been very hard," he said. "We've had setbacks and disappointment but at the end of the day this is it and I think Barnsley will enjoy every minute of it. It's awesome and I'm so proud."

Barnsley-born Dr Fletcher hailed the museum as 'phenomenal'.

"I just think the whole thing is absolutely amazing and I'm bursting with pride.

"I was asked to write an article for an Egyptian newspaper about women's rights in Ancient Egypt and I mentioned that Barnsley was opening a new museum and they printed it. So even Cairo knows about Experience Barnsley."

Simon Hirsty, who led the countdown to the opening, said: "Being able to see more and learn more about the place where I'm from is fantastic. It's going to bring back lots of memories for people."